Go by car or boat.
Annapolis — home of the U.S. Naval Academy, a former American Capitol and present day Capitol of Maryland — blends history, restaurants, dockside cafes and a colorful waterfront, all in a compact walkable downtown. It’s hometown U.S.A. where Ted Levitt, who operates Chick and Ruth’s Deli, leads a breakfast crowd that includes governors and admirals in the Pledge of Allegiance every morning.
Strolling along City Dock or stopping at Pusser’s Outdoor Cafe to watch arriving sail and power boats is an Annapolis tradition.
The Naval Academy welcomes visitors for a tour of the campus, including a museum that chronicles the development of the U. S. Navy and the crypt of America’s first naval hero, John Paul Jones.
You can rent a house at the shore or an RV. But for economy and excitement, a boat charter on the nearby Chesapeake Bay has it all – transportation to interesting places including Annapolis, sleep-aboard accommodations and a galley for cooking. And a sailboat, provided you or a friend have the skill to handle it, is easy on gas.
Those who do charter are convinced it beats boat ownership for the occasional weekend or midweek fling. When you’re done, you don’t have to worry about maintaining the boat, cleaning it up or spending money on the marina.
For a yacht that accommodates 4, a five-day midweek charter on the Chesapeake Bay is as low as $1,100. To handle 6, it’s about $2,000.
Or try an island themed one-and-a-half hour cruise aboard the Crab Imperial, sailing daily from the Waterman’s Crab House.
Visit: Rock Hall, Maryland
Bushkill Falls, Pennsylvania
In a pristine mountain gorge deep in the heart of the Poconos, Bushkill Falls is one of Pennsylvania’s natural and thrilling wonders. Eight waterfalls cascade hundreds of feet into a densely wooded canyon where sunlight barely filters through.
Trails that meander from great heights to crystal clear pools, where the sparkling falls blend into flowing streams, hold varying degrees of challenge. They can be a stroll in the park or a two-mile long, rugged hike.
The area is rich in overnight accommodations and activities, including the nearby Fernwood Resort and golf course.
Visit: Bushkill Falls, PA
The pivotal Civil War battlefield is the magnet that draws hordes of visitors to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where there’s a lot to see and do both on and off the battleground.
The ridges and hills that made Gettysburg so defensible against Johnny Reb are a pleasure to drive. Pristine farms that saw cannonballs drop are set against the background of the mist covered Catoctin Mountains. The little hamlets nearby are full of down-home taverns and stately inns. A stop at Liberty Mountain finds fall festivals and scenic chairlift rides.
And with the changing foliage in fall it becomes spectacular. Fall golfing at neighboring Carroll Valley Golf Club against the backdrop of Liberty Mountain ski trails is invigorating. Go for the day or stay for the weekend. Hotels and inns are plentiful and it’s off-season.
Visit: Gettysburg, PA
Cape May, New Jersey
Nearby Cape May, New Jersey is a smorgasbord of restaurants, pubs, sightseeing, beachgoing and fishing. But a stop here isn’t complete without a short bike ride to Cape May Point and a trip to the Cape May Lighthouse that first cast its beam before the Civil War.
Looking straight up its nearly-160-foot tower from the base can give you that classic pain in the neck, but the climb over 218 steps, most of them ascending a spiral staircase, beats a day at the gym. The view of the endless ocean, Delaware Bay and nearby bird sanctuary is spectacular. A look at the lighthouse-keeper’s quarters offers insight into an era before automation, when this and other coastal sentinels were manned around the clock.
Back in Cape May, the flavors of the sea are abundant at the popular Lobster House restaurant, where the catch is fresh off the ocean trawlers that line the restaurant docks.
St. Michaels, Maryland
Less than 3 hours from Philadelphia, St. Michael’s is a unique village brimming with history, restaurants and unusual shops–all hidden away on the Maryland Eastern Shore.
Captain John Smith explored its waters, and during the war of 1812, the British fired a few cannonballs its way. St. Michael’s locals, between cracking crabs at the waterside Crab Claw Restaurant, are now arguing over the legend that their ancestors placed lights outside town to draw off the cannon fire. It may all be just a sailor’s yarn.
But the town has come a long way, with waterfront attractions and eateries that rival much larger cities.
The key attraction here is the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and its meticulously preserved cottage lighthouse. For overnight stays, bed and breakfasts crowd the waterfront and harbor tours are available under sail or power.